AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Takeaways from Supreme Court ruling: Abortion pill still available but opponents say fight not over

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court unanimously upheld access to a drug used in the majority of U.S. abortions on Thursday, though abortion opponents say the ruling won't be the last word in the fight over mifepristone.

The narrow decision came two years after the high court overturned the nationwide right to abortion. Rather than fully dive into the issue, the high court found that anti-abortion doctors lacked the legal right to sue.

That could leave an opening for anti-abortion states or other opponents to keep up the fight.

Some takeaways from the decision:

Not necessarily very much. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was part of the court majority two years ago to overturn Roe, employed a minimalist approach in the opinion that seemed designed to sidestep disagreements and arrive at a unanimous outcome.


G7 summit opens with deal to use Russian assets for Ukraine as Italy flexes its right-wing muscles

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy (AP) — A Group of Seven summit opened Thursday with agreement reached on a U.S. proposal to back a $50 billion loan to Ukraine using frozen Russian assets as collateral, giving Kyiv a strong show of support even as Europe's political chessboard shifts to the right.

President Joe Biden said the agreement to tap into the windfall profits on some $280 billion in frozen Russian assets held in Europe would put that money to work for Ukraine.

“Another reminder to (Vladimir) Putin: We're not backing down. In fact, we're standing together against this illegal aggression,” Biden said at an evening news conference, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by his side.

The agreement was hashed out hours before Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni opened the summit at a luxury resort in southern Italy, saying she wanted the message of the meeting to be one of dialogue with the global south and unity.

She compared the G7 to the ancient olive trees that are a symbol of the Puglia region, “with their solid roots, and branches projected toward the future.”


Elon Musk wins back his $44.9 billion Tesla pay package in shareholder vote

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla shareholders voted Thursday to restore CEO Elon Musk's record $44.9 billion pay package that was thrown out by a Delaware judge earlier this year, sending a strong vote of confidence in his leadership of the electric vehicle maker.

The favorable vote doesn’t necessarily mean that Musk will get the all-stock compensation anytime soon. The package is likely to remain tied up in the Delaware Chancery Court and Supreme Court for months as Tesla tries to overturn the Delaware judge's rejection.

Musk has raised doubts about his future with Tesla this year, writing on X, the social media platform he owns, that he wanted a 25% stake in the company in order to stop him from taking artificial intelligence development elsewhere. The higher stake is needed to control the use of AI, he has said.

Tesla also has struggled with falling sales and profit margins as demand for electric vehicles slows worldwide.

But at the company's annual meeting Thursday in Austin, Texas, Musk reassured shareholders that he will stick around, telling them he can't sell any stock in the compensation package for five years.


Phoenix police have pattern of violating civil rights and using excessive force, Justice Dept. says

PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix police discriminate against Black, Hispanic and Native American people, unlawfully detain homeless people and use excessive force, including unjustified deadly force, according to a sweeping federal civil rights investigation of law enforcement in the nation's fifth-largest city.

The U.S. Justice Department report released Thursday says investigators found stark racial disparities in how officers in the Phoenix Police Department enforce certain laws, including low-level drug and traffic offenses. Investigators found that Phoenix officers shoot at people who do not pose an imminent threat, fire their weapons after any threat has been eliminated, and routinely delay medical care for people injured in encounters with officers.

The report does not mention whether the federal government is pursuing a court-enforced reform plan known as a consent decree — an often costly and lengthy process — but a Justice Department official told reporters that in similar cases that method has been used to carry out reforms.

Interim Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan said in a statement that they need time to thoroughly review the findings before considering any next steps. A top police union official, meanwhile, called the Justice Department investigation a “farce,” and warned that a consent decree would hurt officer morale.

“The Department of Justice is not interested in making local police departments and the communities they serve better,” said Darrell Kriplean, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which represents about 2,200 officers. “This action demonstrates that they are only interested in removing control of local police from the communities that they serve through consent decrees.”


Justice Clarence Thomas took more trips paid for by donor Harlan Crow, Senate panel reveals

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin says his committee has uncovered at least three additional trips given to Justice Clarence Thomas by GOP megadonor Harlan Crow as part of the panel’s ethics investigation into the Supreme Court.

Durbin, D-Ill., said Thursday the committee obtained information from Crow that Thomas took three trips, and at least six flights, on Crow's private jet in 2017, 2019 and 2021. The panel also found evidence of private jet travel during trips to Indonesia and California that Thomas recently disclosed in an amendment to a 2019 financial disclosure report.

The Democratic-led Judiciary panel launched the investigation last year after several reports that Thomas had for years received undisclosed expensive gifts, including international travel, from Crow. The committee has since pushed the Supreme Court to adopt a stronger ethics code as trips by Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito came to light, along with six-figure book deals received by other justices.

The new information “makes it crystal clear that the highest court needs an enforceable code of conduct, because its members continue to choose not to meet the moment,” Durbin said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from the court on the Senate report. In the past, Thomas has maintained that he is not required to disclose the many trips he and his wife took that were paid for the Texas megadonor because Crow and his wife Kathy are “among our dearest friends,” Thomas said in an April 2023 statement that he was advised by colleagues on the nation’s highest court and others in the federal judiciary that “this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.”


Cheers, cake and a fist-bump from GOP as Trump returns to Capitol Hill in a first since Jan. 6 riot

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump made a triumphant return to Capitol Hill on Thursday, his first with lawmakers since the Jan.6, 2021 attacks, embraced by energized House and Senate Republicans who find themselves reinvigorated by his bid to retake the White House.

Despite pending federal charges against Trump for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, and his recent guilty verdict in an unrelated hush money trial, the Republican former president arrived emboldened as the party's presumptive nominee. He has successfully purged the GOP of critics, silenced most skeptics and enticed once-critical lawmakers aboard his MAGA-fueled campaign.

A packed room of House Republicans sang “Happy Birthday” to Trump in a private breakfast meeting at GOP campaign headquarters across the street from the Capitol. The lawmakers gave him a baseball and bat from the annual congressional game, and senators later presented an American flag cake with “45” candles — and then “47" — referring to the next presidency. Trump bragged that even his telephone rallies for lawmakers could draw bigger crowds than mega-popstar Taylor Swift, who has yet to make any endorsement.

In one remarkable moment, Trump and his most prominent Republican critic, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, shook hands, and fist-bumped.

“There's tremendous unity in the Republican Party," Trump said in brief remarks at Senate GOP headquarters.


US submarine pulls into Guantanamo Bay a day after Russian warships arrive in Cuba

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. Navy submarine has arrived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in a show of force as a fleet of Russian warships gather for planned military exercises in the Caribbean.

U.S. Southern Command said the USS Helena, a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine, pulled into the waters near the U.S. base in Cuba on Thursday, just a day after a Russian frigate, a nuclear-powered submarine, an oil tanker and a rescue tug crossed into Havana Bay after drills in the Atlantic Ocean.

The stop is part of a “routine port visit” as the submarine travels through Southern Command's region, it said in a social media post.

Other U.S. ships also have been tracking and monitoring the Russian drills, which Pentagon officials say do not represent a threat to the United States.

“This is not a surprise. We’ve seen them do these type of port calls before,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Wednesday when asked about the Russian drills. “We of course take it seriously, but these exercises don’t pose a threat to the United States.”


President Biden says he won't offer commutation to his son Hunter after gun sentence

FASANO, Italy (AP) — President Joe Biden said Thursday that he will not use his presidential powers to lessen the eventual sentence that his son Hunter will receive for his federal felony conviction on gun crimes.

Biden, following the conclusion of a news conference held at the Group of Seven summit of the world's wealthiest democracies, responded he would not when asked whether he plans to commute the sentence for his son. Hunter Biden’s sentencing date has not been set, and the three counts carry up to 25 years in prison, though that’s unlikely as a first-time offender.

Ultimately, it will be up to U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was nominated to the bench by former Republican President Donald Trump, to decide how much time, if any, Hunter Biden serves behind bars.

Biden's remarks came one day after the White House declined to rule out a potential commutation for Hunter Biden. Both the president and the White House have said for months that Biden would not pardon his son.

“I’m extremely proud of my son Hunter. He has overcome an addiction. He is one of the brightest most decent men I know," Biden said earlier during the news conference Thursday. "I abide by the jury decision. I will do that and I will not pardon him.”


Tropical rainstorms in South Florida lead to flight delays and streets jammed with stalled cars

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A tropical disturbance that brought a rare flash flood emergency to much of southern Florida delayed flights at two of the state's largest airports and left vehicles waterlogged and stalled in some of the region's lowest-lying streets.

“Looked like the beginning of a zombie movie,” said Ted Rico, a tow truck driver who spent much of Wednesday night and Thursday morning helping to clear the streets of stalled vehicles. “There’s cars littered everywhere, on top of sidewalks, in the median, in the middle of the street, no lights on. Just craziness, you know. Abandoned cars everywhere.”

Rico, of One Master Trucking Corp., was born and raised in Miami and said he was ready for the emergency.

“You know when its coming,” he said. “Every year it’s just getting worse, and for some reason people just keep going through the puddles.”

Travelers across the area were trying to adjust their plans on Thursday morning. More than 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain has fallen in some areas of South Florida since Tuesday, with more predicted over the next few days.


McIlroy showing major form with bogey-free 65 to share US Open lead with Cantlay

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Rory McIlroy sent his 20-foot birdie putt on its way at the 18th hole Thursday and started walking toward the cup when the ball was still some 6 feet away from falling. It looked like the walk of a four-time major champion in control of his game on a Pinehurst No. 2 course that demanded every bit of that in the U.S. Open.

Turns out that was about the only thing that didn’t go according to plan.

“I thought I’d left it short. That’s why I walked after it — full disclosure,” McIlroy said. “It looked good, though.”

He looked as good as ever, posting a bogey-free opening round in a major for the first time since last winning one 10 years ago in the British Open. His 5-under 65 gave him a share of the lead with nemesis Patrick Cantlay in a first round that had a little bit of everything.

Scottie Scheffler was over par in the opening round of a major for the first time in two years, Collin Morikawa had two double bogeys and still shot 70. Tyrrell Hatton dropped his club on impact at the par-3 17th hole, kicked his club, watched it land on the green and made birdie.

The Associated Press